“Home is always the impossible subject, multilayered and maddening.” ― Paul Theroux.
One of Landrieu’s challengers, Rob Maness, and former opponent state Sen. Paul Hollis say the senator does not live in the house, has no home in the state and, therefore, is not eligible to be elected senator. Hollis, now a supporter of Landrieu’s other Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, is suing to disqualify her.
The challenge won’t succeed, as the U.S. Constitution sets the eligibility requirements for a senator. Owning a home is not among them. To the Republicans’ evident dismay, it turns out that renters and people living with their parents are entitled to vote and serve in public office.
This silly debate does raise some legitimate questions. Exactly what is “home” and why is it so important in politics?
In my youth, if someone asked where “home” was, I wasn’t sure. I was born in Beaumont, Texas, where my family lived until I was 12. We moved to Shreveport, then to New Mexico and later to Leesville, La., where we lived until I left for college in Monroe. After graduation, I moved to Ruston. After about a year, it was back to Monroe, then off to Shreveport, before moving to Washington, D.C.
During those early vagabond years, I could never truly define “home.” Beaumont was my hometown, but where was “home” exactly? When I lived in Washington, home increasingly became Louisiana. It was where my heart was. As much as I liked Washington, I could never call it home.
As a senator, Landrieu has worked in Washington for almost 18 years. Despite the inconvenient fact that her job requires her to appear at the U.S. Capitol, she calls Louisiana home. That she also owns a home in Washington, as do many members of Congress, doesn’t negate her Louisiana citizenship.